Media groups to visit Pakistan
Worsening press freedom
KARACHI (PPI) – A coalition of international and local press freedom and media, groups, led by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate in Pakistan, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), is conducting an urgent mission to Pakistan, in response to the deteriorating press freedom situÂation and worsening safety environment.
The IFJ-PFUJ Mission for Press Freedom and Journalist Safety is in Pakistan from February 21 and would stay up to February 25, 2007.
Members of the mission spent February 22 in Lahore meeting with local journalists, office-bearers of the Lahore Press Club, Punjab Union of Journalists, and meeting with the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), including HRCP director I.A. Rehman and HRCP chairperson Asma Jehangir, who is also United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief of the Commission on Human Rights.
The mission travelled to Peshawar and will travel to Islamabad on February 24 to meet with journalists and their family members, and will seek to meet with government representatives, police and the military.
The mission members met with the North West Frontier Province police chief Friday morning in Peshawar, and will be meeting with the NWFP information minister later today, February 23.
The mission will also meet in Peshawar with NWFP senior editors and journalists who have been under attack in NWFP.
The mission is also seeking a meeting with Pakistan’s Prime Minister to discuss the mission’s findings and push for action to be taken by the government. Members of the mission include Christopher Warren, president of the IFJ, who is joining the mission in Islamabad; Bharat Bushan, editor of The Telegraph in Delhi; Chris Morley, president of the National Union of journalists, UK and Ireland; lqbal Khattak, bureau chief of The Daily Times and Pakistan’s representative to Reporters Sans Frontiers; Sunanda Deshapriya of the Free Media Movement in Sri Lanka; and Pervez Shoukat, president of PFUJ.
The mission has been arranged in response to continued media oppression and increasing numbers of attacks on journalists and their families. In the past eight months, four journalists, as well as two child brothers of media workers, have been murdered.
“We need to persuade the government of Pakistan to act to stop these attacks on journalists and press freedom; we will appeal directly to government officials to do more to protect journalists and ensure a free and safe media environment,” IFJ president Christopher Warren said in a statement.
A roundtable conference of the mission members, local journalists (including those that have suffered from attacks and press freedom abuses), editors, rights activists, lawyers and politicians will take place in Islamabad on February 24, and the mission will conclude with a press conÂference in Islamabad on February 25.
Source: THe Nation